Recently, I stumbled upon an article online which captured my attention. It was a first person account of a heterosexual woman who decided to shave her head. While the account was from the mid-1990’s, it expressed something that rings true even today:
For the first few weeks after I shaved my head, I walked around very nervously, convinced that people were going to jump out of alleys and beat me up for being a lesbian.
Because I am straight and have a lot of straight friends who I am certain are totally disinterested in hurting my large number of gay friends, I knew that not all straight people hate all gay people. That didn’t matter. I was still nervous.
In some ways, the post reminded me of the conversation I had with Jane Wishon, a straight alley working hard in California to overturn Proposition 8. But I also noted that the author, Kaitlin (aka Ducky), expressed fear that being perceived to be a lesbian would result in physical harm to her.
This got me to thinking about how successful those in the heterosexual community that devote their lives to tormenting LGBT people have been at promoting terror. (This isn’t the first time I’ve implied – or even outright stated – that organizations such as the National Organization for [Heterosexual Only] Marriage and the American [Heterosexual Only] Family Association are terrorist groups; however, Kaitlin’s story reinforces my opinion.)
These organizations may think they are simply keeping marriage contracts from being entered into by same-sex couples, but through their lies to defend marriage from a same-sex takeover, they are propagating the idea that it’s ok to harm LGBT people. The result is fear within our community, like that felt by Kaitlin.
Kaitlin was lucky as she didn’t experience any violence against her person. Unfortunately, not all LGBT people (or those perceived to be LGBT) are as lucky as Kaitlin. According to the 2008 FBI Hate crimes Statistics, there were 1673 victims of a bias based crime due to their status as LGBT – over four victims per day. [For clarification, the term victim can include businesses/organizations as well as persons. The calculations also exclude the 33 incidents of purported bias crimes based on heterosexual status (roughly 1 per every 10 days)].
But fear only has the power that we give it – and boy do we ever give it power. As examples, Christopher and I rarely, if ever, hold hands in public; many of my friends speak in gender neutral terms about their spouses or boyfriends/girlfriends when among strangers; a heterosexual ally was convinced to remove the equality stickers by a fellow queer because he was afraid she would get hurt or her car would be broken into as she lives and works in a very small, rural, conservative town.
Until we can truly conquer that fear, we will not obtain equality or freedom – we will remain, marriage equality or not, victims of the majority tyranny. I for one am tired of being a victim. How about you?